Mosaic / September 30, 2009

Argentine Adventures

In Latin America and the Caribbean, September 28 is known as ¨El dia latinoamericano por el aborto legal,” or, Day to Decriminalize Abortion in Latin America. This past Monday in Buenos Aires, protesters filled the streets around the Plaza de Mayo, a central part of the city, mainly to fight for legal abortion and also for workers´ rights.

Beginning on Avenida Mayo and marching from the plaza down to the city´s Congress building, the march lasted a few hours and succeeded in blocking city streets. While police were rampant on the sidelines, no violence was used. The march involved groups such as Los Rojas, a feminist group working toward a socialist movement in Argentina, and many organizations fighting against the recent mass layoffs and unfair treatment of workers for Kraft.

In Argentina, abortion is and always has been illegal, ¨In many ways because the Catholic church impacts everything here,¨ said Barbara Garcia, 25, of Buenos Aires. ¨Eight-hundred women die every year in Argentina because of illegal abortions. The morning-after pill isn´t legal here, either,¨ she said.

Some protestors carried crucifixes made of condoms or sex toys, while others held signs trumpeting ¨Revolution in the streets, in the home, and in the bed.¨ Marchers gained both fists of solidarity as well of shouts of ¨assassins¨ from passersby on the sidewalk.

The crowd was large and equally balanced between women and men. Homosexual and lesbian organizations also occupied part of the streets that day. ¨Gays and lesbians as a group think that we cannot end oppression until women, as a gender, are free,¨ said one protestor carrying one end of a rainbow flag, explaining his group´s solidarity with all women´s rights marches.

¨This society can be sexist, but men and women need to help each other when it comes to abortion rights and workers´ rights,¨ said Garcia.

The large part of the simultaneous workers´ rights march was against the company Terrabusi, which was recently bought out by the Illinois-based company Kraft. Kraft has been accused of lacking sanitary conditions for Argentine workers, leading to cases of the H1N1 virus in the factory, and, in turn, over 100 layoffs.

¨Kraft does not understand the impact of this on our economy,¨ said Leonardo Grande, 32, of Buenos Aires. Speaking to the connection to the abortion march, he said, ¨The problem with these companies is that they think women´s problems are only problems of gender, not class or race. That´s not true.¨

Similar marches took place all across Argentina on the 28th, as well as in other Latin American countries. In Latin America, 5,000 women die each year from illegal abortions (New York Times). The Day to Decriminalize Abortion in Latin America has been happening each year since 1990.

Annie Zak

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